HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– Henrico police are investigating hundreds of recent thefts at the Washington Memorial Cemetery in Sandston revolving around an unexpected item.
The cemetery said about 300 bronze vases were stolen over the last six weeks. The thefts were reported to the Henrico County Police Division and they are working to contact the families who are impacted.
“We take safety and security very seriously and routinely evaluate the security needs of the cemetery. However, cemeteries are open to the public and can become targeted by criminals,” Washington Memorial Cemetery said in a statement to 8News. “It saddens us that thieves are preying on cemeteries and gravesites to commit these crimes.”
Hurley Minish visited his parents’ gravesite Thursday after hearing about the thefts.
“Shame on you for stealing off of a cemetery grave,” he said.
He also said this isn’t the first time the heavy metal has been swiped.
“I know this cemetery was hit before. I think it was mainly in the back section where it’s not really off in the road view,” Minish said. “That’s one reason why my parents’ grave is right here close to the road, and I think it’s fairly safe, but I come and check on it anyway.”
Minish said replacing one of the vases could cost up to $500.
He also calls these acts disrespectful, and he’s unsure why anyone would stop so low to steal not only from grieving families, but from those who have died.
“I hate to be a person that’s that desperate to need money, to go steal vases off of graves,” Minish said. “I think something that they really need to look into is a new way of how to try to stop it.”
Washington Memorial Cemetery is asking nearby scrap metal dealers to be wary of any new bronze that may come through their doors.
“We hope that area scrap metal dealers will be watchful for people selling bronze vases from cemetery property and will contact local law enforcement to report any suspicious activity,” the cemetery told 8News.
Henrico Police are actively investigating what items were taken from graves. If anyone may have seen or heard anything suspicious this month at the cemetery, contact Det. C. Andrews at (804) 501-4865.